Leonard Cohen’s Famous Green Typewriter

Cohen removed the casing of
his Olivetti to better
access the typebars.

One of Poet and Songwriter
Leonard Cohen’s most enduring and least publicized love affairs began in 1959 when he picked up his Olivetti 22 portable typewriter, in London, for 40 quid.

He moved in with the machine on the Greek island of Hydra where he typed his second novel, Beautiful Losers, a couple volumes of poetry, and hits like ‘Suzanne’ and ‘So Long Marianne.’ As his work found a global audience Cohen’s ‘old flame,’ the green Olivetti, accompanied him on tour, sustaining the dings and damage of the road along the way–he removed the top casing to make repairs easier, and once had to have it rebuilt after writing in a bathtub.

In an interview with Spin magazine he broke his own rule–not to discuss mistresses or tailors–saying: “The biggest influence on my typing: liturgical, country, and folk music. I type very slow at first and work up a head of steam. I type the way I write, one word at a time.” In a less balanced moment he once threw it across his flat “in a rage over some imagined injustices a woman had done to me.”

Cohen’s simple, robust Olivetti was a perfect fit for a creative process that drew as much from made beds, tidy desks, and washed floors as lost loves and lost weekends. He recently switched to a Mac desktop. Read more about Leonard Cohen and his typewriter here, or buy your very own Olivetti 22 at mytypewriter.com*
Marrianne, of ‘So Long Marriane’ fame,
having a go at the Olivetti, on Hydra, in a photo
that would appear on the back of his
 ‘Songs from a Room’ album.
*Note: I found one a bit cheaper, in good-as-new condition, last spring, in the window of a clothing boutique in Le Marais near Le Place du Vosges. The shop assistant said she’d take €190 for it–might still be there. 
**Photos: 1heckofaguy.com